Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Mermen - The Both Sides Of The Moon Tour Of Los Altos Hillsdotdotdotdot
artworkThe long awaited return of the Mermen to KFJC's pit is captured here. This is a CD-R written from the DAT recording of their performance. The show ran from 7:30 PM to 10:30 PM, with only a short break around 9:30. It's the new line up of the band, Jim Thomas, Jennifer Burns, and Vince Littleton. It's not available, but worth seeking out from someone who taped it off the air.
Picks: Splashing With The Mermaids, Falling Up, Be My Noir, New Song Untitled, Walking The Peach, Moon Vocal Sample, Pull Of The Moon, Latin'ia, Krill Slippin', Hammerhead, Walk Don't Run, Run Don't Walk, Lonely Playboy, The Breeze And I / Curve, Slipping The Glimpse, White Trash Raga, Unto The Resplendent, Raglan, Crash, Surf Party, Sponge Cookie, Emmylou Rides Clarence West And Then South, Bare White, Miki's Lush Beehive, With No Definite Future (And No Purpose Other Than To Prevail Somehow...), Burn

Track by Track Review


Splashing With The Mermaids dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A beautiful light number with a film quality about it that oozes visions of frolicking in the waves with the mythical ladies of the deep.

Falling Up dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Jennifer Burns wrote this bassundo profundo number with a sub-curve guitar tone and slower paced almost plundering quality. Whammified thundering murky danger riding on a relentless wave of heavy motion.

Be My Noir dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a highly melodic and emotional song, with dramatic changes,and grand harmonics. It's very artful writing and splendid guitar tone over a pulsing bass line makes it magnetically hypnotic.

New Song Untitled dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This number is written in a slightly jazzy post surf style that oozes optimism and fluid seascapes in a warm climes, where fashionably wrapped maidens move with a fluidity all their own. Gorgeous and intimate, playful and intellectually satisfying.

Walking The Peach dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Walking The Peach" is a new piece from the new release. It's rhythmic meandering through a minefield of tonal surprises and juxtaposed feedback. Angular yet fluid, with a delightful rhythm.

Moon Vocal Sample dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This sappy singer/songwriter vocal is injected as "the happy side of the moon" to introduce "Pull Of The Moon" by way of contrast.

Pull Of The Moon dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This incredible song has been in the Mermen's set for seven or eight years now. Every time they performed it, it takes on a different color, like a chameleon in a mod dress shop. "Pull Of The Moon" remains big and moody. This performance is more delicate than the Haunted House version, with a less angular more drifting character. Excellent!

Latin'ia dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Sentinals' "Latinia" was been evolving endlessly in the Mermen's hands. This extended rendering launches from Tommy Nunes' exceptional writing into highly emotional and very beautifully liquid tropical bay adventure. In many way's, it is to new millennial surf what Adventures In Paradise was to the cold war need for tranquil escapism. The stunning enrichment of the base piece is perfectly natural. You can still hear the "Maleguena" / "Slave Girl" aka "Cairo" roots of the song. Great!

Krill Slippin' dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a splendidly more rhythmic version of "Lonely Road," with very surfy damped guitar rhythm and precise glissandoes. The mid section has become more adventurous over time, but the magic of the 1988 four track demo is retained. This most traditional of all Jim Thomas creations continues to charm.

Hammerhead dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This performance retains much of the early charm of the Krill Slippin' version, while being updated with a new center section. It seems more surfy than before, yet more arty as well. The damped guitar work in the last verse is pure vintage.

Walk Don't Run dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Following an accidental bass line to "Walk Don't Run" inserted into an aborted attempt at "Run Don't Walk," Jim launched into "Walk Don't Run" for a few bars just for the fun of it... it's rough and immediate, and brought grins all around. "Run Don't Walk" was originally titled "Malibu '59."

Run Don't Walk dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This early Mermen classic continues to be infectious and fluid. "Run Don't Walk" sports energy and a liquid flow. The drums and bass support it well. This performance is faster than normal, which gives it a more playful feel. "Run Don't Walk" was originally titled "Malibu '59." Still a fave.

Lonely Playboy dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Originally released by the Four Playboys, a band from Spokane, Washington that included drummer Vince Littleton's dad back in '63. Throbbing vibrato and a slow beautiful melody. This is surprisingly modern and very well suited to the Mermen's more fluid and floaty side, like "Adventures In Paradise."

The Breeze And I / Curve dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Ernesto Lecuona' glorious "The Breeze and I" is tinkered with delicately with emotional freedom and a slight sadness. It's Jim Thomas solo, and very pretty. It breaks into a monstrous version of "Curve," full of vibrant power and evil energy. This tune is one of my favorite Mermen compositions. This version is a little less noisy than the Songs Of The Cows version, yet just as edgy. The delicate damped picking and jazzy intricacies of the guitar work here are amazingly cool. Great!

Slipping The Glimpse dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Throbbing melodic feedback gradually yields to a catchy melody line. The track has both delicacy and power. A remarkable bit of writing, and the sounds here are spectacular. I messed up leaving the talk mic open for the initial verse... but then, it was live radio.

White Trash Raga dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This new song is a magnificent piece of writing, blending an Indian raga and a percussive Jim Thomas structure in a richly mysterious soup of sounds and percussion. This fascinating piece would be a great vehicle for a guest performance from Santa Cruz sitar virtuoso Ashwin Batish... The mere though brings a gush of drool.

Unto The Resplendent dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A martial rhythm, a Scottish feel, a marvelous throbbing guitar, and viola! Mystery, emotional moodiness, optimism, and sparkling water in the afternoon sun. "Unto The Resplendent" is a very pretty tune.

Raglan dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Raglan" continues to be a favorite Jim Thomas composition. The fluid and beautiful melody line and it's tranquil sadness inspire a lazy afternoon drive on a coastal highway. Enduringly fluid.

Crash dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Creations' "Crash" has been in the Mermen set for a long time. The original is a perfect trad exploration of the genre, so well written that it stands not just the test of time, but also provides a solid foundation to experimentation. Any doubt that the Mermen are a surf band are settled with tunes like this and "Casbah."

Surf Party dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This complete morphing of the Astronaut's film score. Way more crunchy and edgie, it straddles the recognition/incognito line with flair. The performance is a bit sloppy, but entirely fun.

Sponge Cookie dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This newer song has the feel of mid-nineties Mermen, yet the flow of the newer pieces. Very intriguing with a nearly discordant sound. Like fingernails on the blackboard, it's compelling and instantly grating in places, but also delicate and artfully textured.

Emmylou Rides Clarence West And Then South dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

In a complete left turn of Mermen Highway, "Emmylou Rides Clarence West, Then South" rides high on a cactus rhythm with an infectious beat and remarkably fun picking. Totally cool, stretched out western adventure... gives new meaning to "cow-abunga!"

Bare White dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Bare White" is moderately paced, slightly funky, reggae feeling, and almost sounds like it is inspired by Wes Montgomery. Quite interesting and adventurous.

Miki's Lush Beehive dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a hard driving surf number in the mold of a less angular "My Black Bag." Slightly Polynesian, this post modern piece sports excellent double picking and low-E power.

With No Definite Future (And No Purpose Other Than To Prevail Somehow...) dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Very slow and melodic. This has a haunting and magnet quality to it. When they played this at Winter Swell, Allen announced it as "With No Definite Uncle Al And No Purpose Other Than To Prevail Somehow..." in thanks to Uncle Al for mastering the limited edition Xmas CD-R for them.

Burn dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Mystical and flowing, like a gauze view of the Ganges on a sparkling afternoon. A hypnotic drone, a squirrely mix of textures and sounds, all sampled from Jim's guitar and played through a keyboard. Slowly evolving into a moody guitar melody of picturesque tones and structure. This too would be a splendid vehicle to jam with Ashwin Batish.